Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has defended her decision to offer a character reference, vouching for the “good character” of a political lobbyist who pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges on the grounds his wife supported the move.
The South Australian senator has come under sustained attack on social media after it emerged she had offered a character reference and subsequently the man did not have a conviction recorded.
During the incident, the political lobbyist, who cannot be named, flew into a rage after he was asked to peel potatoes for Christmas lunch before pushing and slapping his wife and prompting the couple’s daughter to call 000.
In a statement to The New Daily, Senator Hanson-Young said she did not condone domestic violence.
“No conviction was recorded in this matter. I was asked to provide a character reference for the husband,” Senator Hanson-Young said.
“I did this with the full support of the wife, whom I also know.
“I do not condone domestic violence. Any suggestion otherwise is absurd.
“In the interest of the family concerned and their privacy, I don’t intend to make any further comments.”
The couple’s daughter was so scared she called 000 when she walked in on the attack.
— Sally Rugg (@sallyrugg) March 5, 2020
The Greens senator was recently awarded $120,000 in damages after winning a defamation case against former senator David Leyonhjelm who urged her to “stop shagging men” in Parliament.
She had declared the matter a win for women standing up against bullying.
According to the Canberra Star report, the December 23 dispute began when the victim asked her husband to peel some potatoes for Christmas lunch.
He declined to do so before yelling at her and calling her “mentally unwell”.
“The defendant used his body weight to pin (his victim) to the couch,” police facts say.
“(She) attempted to kick the defendant in order to get him away.
“The defendant slapped (the woman) with an open hand on the left side of the face. (She) felt immediate pain to her face.”
The man appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court, where he pleaded guilty to the assault.
In the letter to the court, seen by the Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Hanson-Young said it was entirely out of character.
“It is true to say that without [his] care and advice over the past few years I would not have been as confident and supported in taking on the sexist and abusive behaviour I have been subjected to as a woman in the Australian Parliament,” she wrote.
“As someone who works in politics, I understand precisely what reputation means in public life.
“In my view, a criminal conviction would have a severe and unwarranted impact on his reputation and consequently on his work.”
Her reference suggests the lobbyist is not linked to the Greens because it notes that despite “differing political philosophies” they had become close friends.